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Half of India’s Class 5 children will fail Class 2 test

Enrolment up,but quality of learning remains poor,shows annual Pratham education survey

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi |
January 15, 2011 3:25:03 am

Every second child in Class 5 in India can’t read a Class 2 text. Less than one child in five can recognize numbers 11 to 99,and more than three out of five can’t solve simple division problems. Overall,after five years of schooling,close to 50 per cent of children are at a level lower than what is expected after two years in school,says India’s most authoritative annual report on the state of education in the country.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2010,prepared by the NGO Pratham,was released by Vice-President Hamid Ansari today. The survey,covering 7 lakh children in 14,000 villages across 522 districts,reported a substantial increase in school enrolment figures but no visible improvement in the quality of education.

Across the country,the ability of children to deal with elementary arithmetics has declined. A large percentage of middle school children struggled in their everyday dealings with numbers,such as reading a calendar,estimating volume or calculating area.

Only 65.8% of children in Class 1 can recognize numbers 1-9,down from 69.3% in 2009. The percentage of students in Class 3 who can solve two-digit subtraction problems has fallen from 39% in 2009 to 36.5% in 2010. The percentage of Class 5 children who can solve simple division problems has fallen from 38% in 2009 to 35.9% in 2010.

Hope comes from Bihar — in the last five years,coinciding with the Nitish Kumar government’s tenure,the percentage of out-of-school boys in the 11-14 age group has come down to 4.4,girls to 4.6. In 2006,these numbers were 12.3% and 17.6%. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have,in contrast,showed no decline in the percentage of out-of school girls since 2009.

Children from Classes 4 and 5 in Bihar were able to solve — along with children in Kerala — more problems related to calculations of area than children elsewhere.

Good news also comes from Punjab,where the ability of children to solve arithmetical problems has improved consistently over the past few years.

In 2008,56.3% of children in Class 2 could recognize numbers up to 100; in 2009,this became 59.6%,and in 2010,70.4%. In 2008,66.9% of Class 4 students could perform simple subtraction tasks; in 2010,this is 81.4%.

In Karnataka,the percentage of five-year-olds enrolled in school leaped from 17.1% in 2009 to 67.6% in 2010. Nationally,the percentage of out-of-school children is the lowest since 2005,and the percentage of five-year-olds in schools has increased from 54.6 in 2009 to 62.8 in 2010.

Most schools have reasonable infrastructure in terms of classrooms and other facilities,shows the survey. It also notes that a large proportion of schools meet the bulk of the norms and standards required under the Right to Education Act in terms of pupil-teacher and teacher-classroom ratios,and facilities like playgrounds,libraries,toilets,drinking water and office-cum-stores.

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